Computational and mathematical organization theory: Perspective and directions

  • Kathleen M. Carley


Computational and mathematical organization theory is an interdisciplinary scientific area whose research members focus on developing and testing organizational theory using formal models. The community shares a theoretical view of organizations as collections of processes and intelligent adaptive agents that are task oriented, socially situated, technologically bound, and continuously changing. Behavior within the organization is seen to affect and be affected by the organization's, position in the external environment. The community also shares a methodological orientation toward the use of formal models for developing and testing theory. These models are both computational (e.g., simulation, emulation, expert systems, computer-assisted numerical analysis) and mathematical (e.g., formal logic, matrix algebra, network analysis, discrete and continuous equations). Much of the research in this area falls into four areas: organizational design, organizational learning, organizations and information technology, and organizational evolution and change. Historically, much of the work in this area has been focused on the issue how should organizations be designed. The work in this subarea is cumulative and tied to other subfields within organization theory more generally. The second most developed area is organizational learning. This research, however, is more tied to the work in psychology, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence than to general organization theory. Currently there is increased activity in the subareas of organizations and information technology and organizational evolution and change. Advances in these areas may be made possible by combining network analysis techniques with an information processing approach to organizations. Formal approaches are particularly valuable to all of these areas given the complex adaptive nature of the organizational agents and the complex dynamic nature of the environment faced by these agents and the organizations.


Network Analysis Formal Model Organizational Evolution Organizational Learning Organizational Design 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen M. Carley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social and Decision SciencesCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh

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